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Khaled Al-Abdulsalm

Khalid Alhudaib

 
 

 

RPW in Iran

 

By

 Arman AVAND-FAGHIH

armanfaghih@yahoo.fr

 

 

Introduction
(history, geographical distribution and economical importance)

         The damage of red palm weevil (RPW), Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier), has been reported for the first time in 1990 on traditional date palm groves in Saravan region (Sistan & Balouchestan province, Iran). This insect pest has been probably introduced to Iran by illegal importation of infested date palm offshoots from Pakistan where it is considered as an endemic pest. RPW has been considered as the most destructive and the most important pest of date palm menacing the production of date in Iran known as the first producer in the world with 32 millions of palms on 154,000 ha and 707,000 tons of yield per year. In infested area, 0.7% of date palms are infested by the pest every year (about 7,000 infested palms during 7 years) which is an important economic damage. Five-to 20-years old date palms are more infested than other palms and the Mazafati variety is more preferred by pest than other varieties in Iranian infested area. A large-scale program has been implemented very soon after the first report to prevent the spreading of the pest in the country, to control its damage in the infested area and to search for new control methods.

 
The infested area by RPW in Iran (Saravan region, Sistan & Baloutchestan province)

 

 Red palm weevil, an internal quarantined pest in Iran

         Internal quarantine regulations have been executed by interdiction of all date palm organs (except fruits) exportation from infested area. For this purpose, several quarantine stations have been installed on all exit roads. The infested area in Iran is limited to Saravan region at Pakistan borderline until now.

 Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy for the Control of RPW in Iran

         The conventional control of pest by chemical insecticides was abandoned very soon because of its harmful effect on environment. All date palms of infested area has been checked continuously by technicians to identify the infested date palms by described symptoms as oozing a viscous and stink brown liquid from the stem, the feeding sound of larva in stem, the water-stressed aspect of palms and white-dried young leaves of palm and especially of stem-shoots. The infested palms have been successfully treated chemically by aluminium phosphide (Phostoxin) after removing the stem-shoots and dried petioles. Phostoxin tablets are placed in the entrance of larval galleries and the stem is tightly covered by a plastic sheet to prevent the escape of gas. The plastic sheet is carried off after 2 or 5 days in hot or cold seasons respectively. The continuous execution of this method for 5 years decreased the number of infested palms from more than 1000 at the beginning years to about 300 in 1994. But the subsequent introduction of pest to new villages and in one hand the increase of infested area and on the other hand the limited number of skilful technicians have reduced the efficiency of this approach. The most important disadvantage of this method is that it is not possible to identify the infested palms in early stage and before a high damage.  So the preventive methods have been developed in parallel with chemical curative approach in the frame of IPM to avoid new infestations. As the adults are attracted by the odours emitted by wounds, it has been recommended to prevent the pruning of leaves and stem-shoots during the hot seasons (pruning can be carried out between mid December and mid February when the adults do not fly), to control the damage of other stem pests as Oryctes elegans Prell, Pseudophilus testaceus Gah., and rats that provide penetration and egg laying sites for RPW. Except wounds, the connection between the stipe and stem-shoot is another suitable site for egg laying and penetration of adults. Thus the elimination of stem-shoots is recommended during the cold season. It has been suggested also to treat all wounds by a gypsy paste especially during hot seasons. The date palm stem traps had been used at the first years after RPW introduction but they became the rearing sites of pest because of the difficulties for their management.

The aggregation pheromone-baited traps as an important component of IPM 

        The identification of male-produced aggregation pheromone of RPW has opened a new horizon for IPM of this insect. The pheromone-baited traps have been optimised for trapping of RPW in Iranian situations. The plastic bucket traps (24 l) with 8 openings (5 ´ 8 cm) on the lids have been used as traps. The ferrugineol dispensers with a 5 mg/d release rate are as effective as ones with 55 mg/d. A piece of date palm offshoot (about 1 kg) in a punctured plastic bag is used as the synergist in traps. The pheromone dispenser and plant bait are suspended in trap below the lid by metal wires. An aqueous solution of a detergent (2%) is used as the retention system of captured insects and for providing enough humidity in trap to prolong the efficiency of plant bait. The traps are placed at ground level and attached to date palm stems. The plant baits are renewed every 14 days. The traps catch significantly more females than males, which is an interesting advantage for developing the mass-trapping method.  A low trap density and precisely taking into account of the palm susceptibility has been recommended for mass trapping method in Iranian traditional date palm groves. A lower density of traps (0.5 trap/ha) shall be installed in more susceptible date palm grows with young palms and sensitive variety.

 Obstacles and perspectives

         The strong heterogeneity of traditional date palm groves of infested area (different densities of palms of diverse varieties and ages) and the abandoned gardens are the most important obstacles for developing an IPM strategy.

A research program is under way under the supervision of Unité de Phytopharmacie et Médiateurs Chimiques (INRA, Centre de Versailles, France) to identify the plant synergists of RPW aggregation pheromone to facilitate the agronomic application of pheromone-baited traps for mass trapping of RPW.

 Partners of RPW project in Iran (alphabetic order)

 -         Plant Pests & Diseases Research Institute (research projects)

 -         Plant Protection Organisation (financing for quarantine and control methods)

-         Sistan & Balouchestan Agriculture Organisation (management and realisation of quarantine and control methods)

 References 

 AVAND-FAGHIH A., GHARIB A.R., 1995. Study of biology and control of red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Oliv.) in Saravan, Proceedings of the 12th Iranian Plant Protection Congress (Karadj, Iran).

 AVAND-FAGHIH A., 1996. The biology of red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Oliv. In Saravan region (Sistan & Balouchestan province, Iran), Applied Entomology and Phytopathology, Vol.63, 1&2, Feb. 1996, 61-89.

 AVAND-FAGHIH A., 1997. Research on the control of red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Oliv.), (Col.: Curculionidae) by synthetic attractants in Sistan & Balouchestan province (Iran). A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment for the degree of M.Sc. in Agricultural Entomology, University of Tehran, College of Agriculture, Department of Plant Protection.

 F.A.O., 1995. Report of the expert consultation on date palm pest problems and their control in the Near East. 22-26 April 1995, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates, 58 pp.

FARAZMAND H., RASSOULIAN GH.R., BAYAT-ASSADI H., 2000. Comparative notes on larval growth and development of red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Oliv. (Col.: Curculionidae), on date palm varieties in Saravan region. Journal of Entomological  Society of Iran, Vol.19, No.1&2, 1-14.

 FARAZMAND H., RASSOULIAN GH.R.,  TALEBI-JAHROMI  KH., 2001. Host preference of red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Oliv., on date palm important varieties of Balouchistan, Iran in field condition. Iranian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, Vol.32, No.1, 121-129.

 FARAZMAND H., 2002. Investigation on the reasons of food preference of red palm weevil,   Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Oliv. Journal of Applied Entomology & Phytopathology, Vol. 70,  No. 1, (In press).

 ROCHAT D., AVAND-FAGHIH A., MALOSSE C., EBRAHIMI A., 1998. Extraction,  identification and application of the aggregation pheromone of the red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Oliv. (Col.: Curculionidae) in Saravan region, Proceedings of the 13th Iranian Plant Protection Congress (Karadj, Iran).

 ROCHAT D., AVAND-FAGHIH A., 2000. In: KLEEBERG H., ZEBITZ C.P.W., Practice oriented results on use and production of neem-ingredients and pheromones, 219-224, Trifolio-M GmbH, Sonnenstr. 22, D-35633 Lahnau.

 ROCHAT D., AVAND-FAGHIH A., FARAZMAND H., MOHAMMADPOUR K., 2001. Effect of red palm weevil mass trapping with synthetic pheromone in traditional Iranian date palm groves, Second Asia-Pacific Conference on Chemical Ecology, August 7-11 2001 (Penang, Malaysia) 50-51. 

 

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